Until recently, my wife never understood my fascination with fantasy football. Specifically, she wondered how I could make fun of the other “players” in my league (i.e., my friends) without them getting mad at me. I rarely see these friends because we live in different states, and she likes to point out that it may be a better idea to be nice to one another. Perhaps many of you are just like my wife, wondering what in the world is wrong with your boyfriends/fiancés/husbands (at least in terms of our obsession with fantasy football…I can’t promise to explain all of our other oddities). In fact, there are entire Facebook groups and webpages devoted to “Girlfriends/Women Against Fantasy Football.”
Believe it or not, fantasy football may actually serve more of a purpose than wasting hours upon hours on the internet (although it does a darn good job doing just that!). Because of the interactive nature of fantasy football, in which team “owners” compete, coordinate player trades, and engage in friendly “smack talk” with one another, fantasy football can actually help maintain friendships, particularly if those friends are separated by long distances. In fact, the more that friends jointly engage in activities like fantasy football, the stronger and happier their friendships tend to be (via increased satisfaction, commitment, and investments).1 Additionally, fantasy football provides yet another forum for friends to communicate with one another (on top of calling, texting, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, etc.), and there is evidence that friendships that exhibit regular communication are less prone to fading.2 Even “smack talk” can be beneficial, as playfully teasing one another and calling each other funny nicknames shows interpersonal benefits for both men and women.3
So if you happen to be in a relationship in which your partner obsesses over fantasy football, take solace in the fact that s/he is working on maintaining friendships. Of course, there’s no reason why the two of you can’t both play fantasy football, in turn maintaining your own relationship. In fact, this is just what my wife decided to do. There really may be something to the old saying “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
1Oswald, D. L., Clark, E. M., & Kelly, C. M. (2004). Friendship maintenance: An analysis of individual and dyad behavior. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23, 413-441.
2Oswald, D. L., & Clark, E. M. (2003). Best friends forever?: High school best friendships and the transition to college. Personal Relationships, 10, 187-196.
3Gonzaga, G. C., Keltner, D., Londahl, E. A., & Smith, M. D. (2001). Love and the commitment problem in romantic relations and friendships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 247-262.
Dr. Brent Mattingly – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Mattingly’s research, broadly conceptualized, focuses on the intersection of romantic relationships and the self. His specific lines of research all examine how individual-level constructs (e.g., motivation, attachment, self-regulation) are associated with various relational processes.
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